The War Against Tyranny
30 years after immigrating to Canada
always felt politically indifferent
but after awakening in 2019
use art to help exiled dissidents from Hong Kong
Apple Daily - 2020.11.11 09:30
Since June 2019, the people of Hong Kong have been fighting for democracy, and the struggle has never stopped. One after another rally, assembly, occupation, suppression, and even disappearance, many people have scars that will never heal. Their screams have not only awakened more Hong Kong people, but also awakened those who have moved abroad for many years. Ricker Choi, who moved to Toronto from Hong Kong for more than 30 years, has changed from being politically indifferent to now actively fund raise for Hong Kong's cause.
Ricker for many years have not paid attention to news about Hong Kong. But after 2019 June million-strong rallies in Hong Kong, the image shook Ricker, "It was shocking, and I started to pay attention to Hong Kong news. When "721 Yuen Long Nightmare" (police colluded with few hundred mafia to beat civilians indiscriminately) and "831 Prince Edward Station Attack" (HK police beat civilians indiscriminately at a subway station), Ricker realizes Hong Kong is following Xinjiang's footsteps."
painting by Ricker Choi: Save 12 Hong Kong Youths
After the "721 Yuen Long" attack, Ricker began to paint and express his emotions. In his first painting, he imitated Munch's "The Scream", but substituted with subjects from the incident such as mafia in white and China's red five-star flag to allude to what happened that day. "The sacrifice of HK protesters have won the the awakening of Hong Kong people, of those like me outside of Hong Kong, and of Western society: that CCP is an absolutely evil regime, but the price to Hong Kong people is too high.” At present, Ricker has created more than 30 works. "Lion Rock" and "Save 12 Hong Kong Youths" are the ones that resonate most with Hong Kong people.
painting by Ricker Choi: 721 Yuen Long Nightmare
painting by Ricker Choi: Lion Rock.
Printed as poster for sale to fund raise for those persecuted in Hong Kong
Ricker, who is currently a financial risk management consultant, said he started learning painting from Youtube videos in 2013. He now printed his paintings into posters and sold them for charity in the Toronto area. At present, about 100 posters have been sold. After deducting the printing cost, which accounts for about 15% to 20% of the selling price, he donated all the money. "Fundraising for Hong Kong is very sensitive. There is even one organisation whose funds are freezed by a bank at the order of Chinese Communist Party. So I will diversify my target organisations: part will be donated to organizations that help protesters who are persecuted but still in Hong Kong, part to those that help exiled protesters, and part to those that lobby governments in the West."
painting by Ricker Choi: from fear to resistance, his work evolves together with his psychological journey
painting by Ricker Choi: Ricker puts his hopes in this painting, hoping that Hong Kong people's wishes will eventually be fulfilled.
In addition to supporting the movement with paintings, Ricker, who has studied piano since teenage years and recently also music composition, has also used four songs representative in 2019 protest movement: "Glory to Hong Kong", "Do You Hear the People Sing", "Beneath the Lion Rock" and "The Boundless Sea and Sky", and composed "Hong Kong Rhapsody 2020".
This 12 minutes long work, performed by Ricker himself, was quite popular after uploading to Youtube. "Initially, I had no plan to raise funds with "Hong Kong Rhapsody". But many contacted me for the score, so I asked that they donate money to an organization that is helping the protest movement as exchange for my music score. This was my first charity sale."
Painting, music creation, charity sales and other administrative tasks take up about 10-20 hours a week for Ricker, but he confessed that he enjoys it. He has raised nearly $5,000 Canadian dollars so far; he is preparing for the next round of charity sales to sell digital album of his music. "Many people outside of Toronto wanted to buy my posters, but there are many restrictions, and transportation costs have to be considered. However, people all over the world can buy my upcoming music album. I always hope to minimize the cost of each fund raising campaign to as to donate the most money."
Ricker said frankly he could not change the views of his pro-CCP friends. "Initially in 2019 June, when some of my friends kept scolding Hong Kong protesters, I did not speak up because I was not familiar yet about the situation in Hong Kong. After months of detailed research, I could no longer accept what they said.”
Ricker said that he tried to reason with "Blue Silk" (pro-CCP) friends by listing examples of CCP's persecution of human rights, but only hear them saying: "All countries have similar problems!" "Democracy is overrated" "The West did the same to Natives". Feeling futile, he decided to sever contact with all his pro-CCP friends. "Even if I have known some of them for more than 30 years, I have not contacted them anymore." Fortunately, Ricker has made many new friends through his journey of activism for Hong Kong. "Everyone has the same passion for Hong Kong and human rights, and I feel that Hong Kong people in Toronto are now more united than ever," he said. I hope that through my music and paintings, I will give more encouragement to fellow Hong Kongers, and I hope that the wishes buried in my paintings will eventually be fulfilled.